From crisp whites to intense reds, it seems like there’s a wine to please everyone, but with so many places around the capital offering what they claim to be the best selection, and Chateau Enfield still several years away from production, it’s hard to know where to find a palatable glass of the stuff in London. Therefore Londonist has assumed the truly arduous task of sampling the city's wine-related venues in order that you, our thirsty readers, might not endure the horror of sour grapes. First on our list was Terroirs, a friendly, well stocked wine bar right in the heart of the West End.
First things first: for anyone that's unsure, it's pronounced 'terr - wahhhs', something that's much easier to master one you've had a glass or two. If you didn't watch BBC’s Oz Clark pontificating on the topic recently, a terroir is the term for the characteristics found in a wine that result from the particular region it’s grown in. Thus what this bar aims to do is to provide natural, additive-free wines that exemplify the qualities of the locations they’re sourced from, which are mainly areas in France and Italy.
If you’re thinking that sounds a bit pretentious you needn’t worry, the first thing that strikes you when you walk through the door is how much it feels like a relaxed, neighbourhood wine bar. That’s not to say it lacks polish or professionalism, but rather that it makes you feel instantly comfortable with its surroundings, and with the only clock permanently set to just after 8.30 you could while away hours in here without noticing the mayhem outside.
Terrois has been open for nearly a year now, and their list of wines is being constantly updated. The current menu runs to 38 pages and is arranged by region, featuring an extensive array of styles, vintages and grapes. Their ethos is immediately visible in this selection and the naturalness of the wine was particularly apparent when one wine was served with flaky bits of sediment still in the bottle. Interestingly, they also have a selection of ‘wines of the moment’, which allows you to explore wines that you might not have tried before or that are of a very limited stock.
Prices start at £15 for a bottle or £3.50 for a glass, and although there are some expensive options all the wines we tried were good quality. A tangy Pouilly-Fumé was a particular favourite, and the waiters were always on hand to offer advice and suggestions - even advising us against certain options if they didn’t think we’d like them. One of the great features about this bar is that, whatever your question might be about wine, the staff always endeavour to educate you rather than make you feel like you should have known the answer already.
On top of the wine comes an excellent food menu, ranging from light bar snacks to full meals, as well as other drink options such as artisan cider and beer. We’d seriously recommend the charcuterie platters with some crispy French bread, as well as the simply delicious sea salt caramel crepés. News on the grapevine (geddit) is that they’re opening a basement restaurant soon, which should deal with the overcrowding and make this an even better place to discover new wines or simply improve your French pronunciation. Say it with us now, terr..waahhs.*
Terroirs is open Mon-Sat, 12pm-11pm. WC2N 4DW
*Disclaimer: Londonist takes no responsibility for your colleagues laughing at you whilst you practise this.